Blue Jays escape stubborn Red Sox

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TORONTO (AP) – Pinch-hitter Shea Hillenbrand hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays overcame a tying, three-run homer by Jason Varitek to beat the Boston Red Sox 7-6 on Monday night.

Down 6-3 in the eighth, Varitek tied the game with a two-out homer off Justin Speier.

Toronto’s Bengie Molina doubled into the gap in right center leading off the bottom half of the inning against David Riske (0-1).

After Aaron Hill advanced pinch-runner Eric Hinske with a sacrifice bunt, Hillenbrand singled to left past a drawn-in infield to give Toronto the lead.

B.J. Ryan (1-0) pitched 1 1-3 hitless innings for the Blue Jays.

Toronto improved to 6-3 against Boston this season, all the losses coming when the recently demoted Josh Towers pitched.

Manny Ramirez and Coco Crisp homered for the Red Sox, who had won four straight. Ramirez hit his 50th home run against the Blue Jays – the most against them by an opponent.

Toronto ace Roy Halladay had another strong start, allowing three runs and seven hits in seven innings

Wells hit his 12th homer – a two-run shot off Matt Clement in the third.

Lyle Overbay led off the Toronto third with his third homer in the last two games. Molina added an RBI single in the inning. Alex Rios chased Clement with a two-run single in the fourth.

Clement allowed six runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings. He gave up a season-high eight runs in a loss to New York on May 24.

Crisp – playing in his second game of the season after missing 42 with a broken finger – hit a solo homer in the fifth.

After Halladay hit David Ortiz with a pitch in the sixth, Ramirez followed with his 12th homer to cut the lead to 6-3.

Toronto reliever Scott Downs hit Mark Loretta in the eighth before walking Ortiz. Speier relieved and struck out Ramirez and got Trot Nixon pop out, but Varitek hit a 0-1 pitch over the wall in right.

Edgar Alfonzo went 0-for-3 in his Toronto debut. The Blue Jays recalled the veteran infielder from the minors before the game.

Notes: Loretta extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the first. … Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers sat next to Larry Tanenbaum – the chairman of the NHL’s Maple Leafs and NBA’s Raptors. … Toronto left fielder Frank Catalanotto robbed Varitek with a diving catch in the fourth. Wells took a double away from Kevin Youkilis with an over-the-shoulder catch at the wall in center in the fifth.

AP-ES-05-29-06 2220EDT

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